Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Parish Council NDP Steering Group
Wednesday 7th December – 5 Victoria Cottages, Cranbrook – 7.30pm
In attendance: Jeremy Boxall, David Cook, Liz Daley, Matt Hartley, Annie Hatcher (Sec), Lee Hatcher, Tally Wade, Nancy Warne (Chair)
Apologies: Tim Kemp (Co-vice Chair), John Smith (Co-vice Chair), Matt Warne (Treasurer), Joy Temple, Brian Swann.
1. Terms of Reference – Amendments
Alterations were made to the terms of reference document and also to the minutes of the meeting with TWBC (NW to finalise these).
2. Do we want ‘Handwritten’ or ‘Handheld?’
Much discussion regarding relative merits of Angela Koch’s ‘handwritten’ style whereby she would lead and guide the group but the resulting document would be very much up to us, and the alternative from Feria which could be more of a hand-holding exercise resulting in a more prescriptive plan similar to other plans made for villages in the area.
It was noted that the cost of the final referendum would not be as much as had been suggested by Brian Swann at the previous meeting. After discussion with Matt Jeffries (Electoral services at TWBC), NW had found that the estimated cost would be no more than £5,000.00. The referendum would need to be arranged through TWBC and we would need to clarify this with them.
The cost of the model which could be provided by ‘Planning for Real’ would also be less than the £15,000 which had been suggested by Jim Boot at the last meeting. TW has ascertained that we could probably get this done for between £2,500 and £10,000 depending on how much assistance would be required.
Members of the team who had been in touch with other villages and towns working on their NDPs had had good feedback regarding Feria (Hawkhurst) and Alison Eardley (Paddock Wood – terms of reference – she did not get involved with their NDP).
It was noted that there has been very good support and communication between villages with regard to the NDP process.
The costs of the two consultants were not now vastly different, though Angela Koch would work out to be slightly more expensive (even after her amended estimate).
Questions were formulated to put to Richard Eastham (see 3).
Do we want a framework, or a straightjacket which would stifle our creativity?
Would we be able to adapt Feria’s style to accommodate our panel’s expertise and knowledge of architecture and planning?
3. Skype call with Richard Eastham
Four questions had been prepared and these were answered as follows:
Q1: How much experience have you had with regards to the TWBC Local Plan? We are in contact with the compilers at TWBC and would like to collaborate with them. Would our NDP be regarded as the ‘Cranbrook Chapter’ of the Local Plan?
A1: The NDP will be made by the CSPC and TWBC will use it to make the Local Plan, so the NDP will act as the Cranbrook Chapter. The division of responsibilities between the NDP group and the TWBC (Local Plan) would be decided early on in the process and there should be no overlap. The NDP can identify policies which are specific to the parish in response to public consultation and evidence gathering which will compliment those in the Local Plan. These can be reinforced by “hooking up” to policies in the Local Plan. There will be some strategic topics that are the responsibility of the Local Plan, but nothing is off limits to the NDP.
Q2: If it so happened that a neighbouring village were to be using your services at the same time as us, could you envisage us sharing your services and therefore economising on costs?
A2: If both villages were on the same track and at approximately the same stage in the process, then there is no reason why this should not be possible. If the villages share a boundary, then they should be aware of each other’s progress and should be in a position to be able to comment if one NDP might affect the other. As key stakeholders, the neighbouring villages need to be invited to each other’s consultations and be kept up to date with progress.
Q3: We have a large amount of expertise in matters of planning/architecture/environmental issues within our steering group. Would you reassure us that the rather prescriptive frameworks of Feria’s local NDP work would be flexible in order to allow us to utilise this expertise and that we could ‘think outside the box’?
A3: There are prescriptive steps which need to be followed, but where each step takes you is guided by the people involved. Expertise amongst the steering group can lead you in radical and innovative directions and this will be welcome.
Q4: We have a fledgling Community land trust (CVLT). Do you have experience in working with community land trusts and would we be able to work with the CVLT and NDP running alongside and influencing one another?
A4: Feria has worked with a community trust in Suffolk where there was a plan to convert a closing school into a community hub. There would be no problem in the two running alongside one another in Cranbrook and Sissinghurst. The reports would need to support one another and the CVLT (and other community groups) would carry equal weight. There is no reason why the land trust should not fit into the process.
4. After further discussion, the two shortlisted candidates were put to the vote and the results were:
Angela Koch (Imagine) – 0 votes
Richard Eastham (Feria) – 8 votes
It was noted that all three absentee members would also have voted for Feria, though TK has noted by email, to the meeting that the skills of Angela Koch would have been of great benefit. The committee agreed.
Nancy will also begin to compile a narrative for the NDP.
The group offered its thanks to Nancy for her hard work in steering the steering group and for her hospitality.
Other matters on the Agenda (item 5) will be postponed and discussed at the next meeting.
It was confirmed that subsequent meetings would be held on the following dates, in the presence of Lori (the Clerk):
The meeting ended at 9.20pm